Ryan Odle: International Studies Major
November 1, 2013
Ryan Odle, a junior from southern California, loves the outdoors. Choosing to come to Evangel just two months before the school year started, he counts the decision as one of the best he has ever made. He is a student in the Social Sciences Department, and he also serves as a work-study under Dr. Jon Spence. His three years at Evangel have been an incredible journey so far, and he is excited for the many opportunities yet to come as he continues to follow where God leads him.
Where are you from?
I am from a small town in southern California called Cherry Valley. Contrary to the popular stereotype that all people from southern California are beach bums whose life aim is to surf, I hardly ever go to the beach. I am actually a country boy who loves the outdoors, hiking, mountain biking and trail running.
What do you like to do when you’re not in classes?
God has stirred me to start a ministry band and work at Convoy of Hope. In the spring of 2013, I had the opportunity to do an internship at Convoy. Getting an internship outside of the school was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It was so awesome to get real world experience with Convoy. Besides school and Convoy, I spend my time composing music, hanging out with friends and playing in the worship band at my church.
Why did you choose to attend Evangel?
Finding out about Evangel is a pretty amazing story. I wasn’t even planning on coming to Evangel until two months before school was going to start. I actually didn’t find out I could attend Evangel until a week before classes started. I started going to an Assemblies of God church about a year before Evangel, so I had seen advertisements for the school in the Pentecostal Evangel magazines. I didn’t fully commit to the choice until I researched a bunch of schools I was interested in online. Evangel plainly became the best decision. Also, Evangel worked with me a lot financially to make it possible for me to come to this awesome school. I chose EU for a few reasons. Price, spirituality, offered majors, and it was away from California. From what I read, EU looked like a place I would grow academically while growing spiritually.
How did you choose your major?
My life aim used to be becoming a professional mountain biker, but God has an interesting way of changing our best-laid plans. I chose my major in an interesting way. It all started back in high school when I felt God was calling me into government. At first, I thought the best pathway to government was going to law school and becoming a lawyer. When I first started at Evangel, I was a double-major in Government with a pre-law focus and Public Administration. After my first semester, I developed a love-hate relationship for law. Law was interesting, but a career in law didn’t exactly fit my personality. Then, my second semester I started my internship at Convoy, where I quickly felt at home. Now, I have switched to an International Studies major with a non-governmental organizations focus. I also take music lessons. I chose my new major because it kept me in the Social Science Department and it was connected to non-profit work.
Did you visit campus prior to moving in?
I was not able to visit the campus before attending EU. I would highly recommend students visit the campus by doing one of the overnight stays. I wish I had visited the campus because it would have made me super excited for college much sooner. I think an overnight stay is a great way to get a feel for the campus atmosphere and culture.
What makes the environment at Evangel special?
The Evangel environment is special because it is a small campus with a family atmosphere. A smaller university is awesome because of the smaller class sizes and the opportunity to develop relationships with the professors. It is also really nice to see familiar faces all the time. Evangel has the feeling a big 2,000+ member family. Plus, the spiritual emphasis on campus creates an uplifting environment.
What is the best thing about the Social Sciences Department?
I love my department because the professors all have so much real world experience. The professors also genuinely care about my future career plans. Plus, the Social Science Department has an open-door policy. The open-door policy means that if a professor’s door is open you can go on in and have a talk. I have taken advantage of this policy a lot. I also work in the Social Science Department. I am a work-study under Dr. Jon Spence for the Leadership Fellows Program. This work study is the best job I have ever had. It has been such a blast planning leadership conferences and forums and working with such a great leader like Dr. Spence.
What extracurricular activities are you involved in?
At Evangel you get an email almost everyday for a new educational, service or leadership opportunity, so you have to choose wisely. I currently serve on the student advisory board for the Social Science Department and sing in the University Choir. I used to be an officer in the Pre-Law Society. Evangel really encourages students to get involved at local churches and I am serving on the worship team at my church. I also joined the forensics (speech) team for one semester, which was pretty awesome. Basically, your extra-curricular activities will mostly likely change over the course of your college experience.
What are your future career goals?
My goals after Evangel are still a little unclear, but I would love to work at Convoy of Hope. My dream would be to work with Convoy to advocate at college for those who are hungry around the world. I also want to start up my band ministry and play the songs our band has written at secular venues. Music is so powerful. God has stirred me to write songs to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and to advocate for the poor, hungry, and suffering. Getting married would be pretty awesome too. Yeah, that last one is definitely one of my goals.
Why should a prospective student choose Evangel?
Choose Evangel because it will dictate how you will live the rest of your life. Evangel strongly encourages you to get involved on and off campus and I recommend it too. These are the years that you truly find who you are as a person and Evangel is such a great environment to make that discovery in. Don’t get me wrong, Evangel is not perfect, but if you choose to put cynicism aside, you will grow like never before. I have had countless God moments here because I decided to put God first.
What advice do you have for prospective students?
This is my advice to any prospective student for any university: Life is more than a college education or that future job. If you leave college with a fancy degree but spiritually lifeless, you just wasted four years of your life. Never stop pursing God while you are in school. See God in your classes, activities and relationships. No one — not friends, not family and not Evangel’s chapel services — can push you to serve God — only you can. I wish I would have understood this my first semesters of college.